Brown’s Breakfast Burrito, The Way Back

The Way Back

GULag is the acronym for the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems in the early 1900’s. In Romanized Russian that’s “Glavnoye upravlyeniye ispravityel’no-trudovih lagyeryey i koloniy” which means “Chief Administration of Corrective Labor Camps and Colonies.”  The term “Gulag” quickly morphed to represent the camps themselves, which housed a wide range of convicts and many political prisoners.  It’s also come to stand for the repressive Soviet system with its arrests, interrogations, transport in unheated cattle cars, forced labor, destruction of families, years spent in exile, and early and unnecessary deaths.

The Gulag was a meat grinder. An estimated 1,053,829 people died in the Gulag from 1934 to 1953.

Some of those camps were in Siberia, one of the most remote and harsh places on earth. Sawomir Rawicz was one of those who claimed to have escaped such a camp in Siberia. He wrote about it and his subsequent 4,000-mile walk to freedom in India in The Long Walk. That story inspired Peter Weir to write and direct The Way Back, which tells the story of a group of men who attempt to escape out of Siberia, across the Mongolian wastes, and into India.

The film stars Ed Harris (who is interesting in anything he does), Colin Farrel (also starred in Ondine), Mark Strong (the villain in Sherlock Holmes), Saoirse Ronan (the fabulous lead in Hanna), and Jim Sturgess (the boyfriend in One Day). One of the group is an outright murderer. The others are all political dissidents—a teacher, priest, businessman, artist, etc. I found the performances honest and believable. But it wasn’t just the characters–the screenwriters subtly used syntax and word choice to transport the viewer.

But more important than the believability were the various tensions and stories contained within the escape plot. Each of the men, and the lone girl, has a story, and the film gives space for the stories to be told. As for the lone girl: Ronan was amazing in Hannah.  She’s amazing here. Furthermore, the role she played here leavened the whole film with something it wouldn’t have had otherwise.

The story will surprise you, make you shed a tear, think, and laugh. When you’re finished, you’ll talk about it. It’s that kind of a film. If you like dramas with action and suspense, I think you’ll like this film.

As always, use to see if it contains things you might find objectionable.

Brown’s Breakfast Burrito

How about a meal that’s so good you’ll want to slow way down to savor each bite? A breakfast that will keep you full until lunch? A tasty repast that isn’t loaded with mind-numbing calories? Let me suggest the John Brown breakfast burrito. It’s full of succulent umami, bursts of piquant pepper, healthy mushrooms, and lots of filling protein. And it only takes about 10 minutes to prepare. The recipe below makes one burrito. Scale it up to feed more.  


  • 1/4th red bell pepper, chopped into small pieces
  • ½ to 1 cup of mushrooms, sliced
  • Dash of thyme


  • 2 eggs (120 calories)
  • 1 T milk or half-and-half
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dash paprika
  • Dash garlic powder
  • Dash onion powder


  • Pam cooking spray
  • 1 tortilla (150 calories)
  • 1 ounce of Jimmy Dean Premium Pork sausage (90 calories)

If you don’t have one of the spices, don’t freak out. It will still taste great. But the spices really take it to the next level. Here are the instructions. 

  1. Start with your veggies. Spray pan with Pam and sauté peppers for two minutes on medium high heat. Add mushrooms. Give them a spray of Pam and dash with salt. Cover until the mushrooms sweat (release their water).
  2. Next is the sausage. While mushrooms are cooking, start your sausage frying.
  3. Finish veggies. Uncover mushrooms. Just before you finish them, sprinkle with a dash of thyme. When the spice becomes fragrant (its smell rises up in delicious glory from the pan), remove the veggies from the pan and cover to keep them warm.
  4. Cook eggs. Turn heat down to medium low. Beat eggs, milk, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder.  Spray pan you used for veggies with Pam, then cook your scrambled eggs on medium low heat, stirring and scraping the whole time. And keep it on medium low—no browning or burning of eggs allowed! Cook until the eggs glisten with the last bits of moisture. Remember: you don’t want dry desert eggs. You want soft succulent ones.
  5. Assemble the glorious concoction. Put the veggies, scrambled eggs, and sausage in your tortilla and wrap it up smartly. (What does “smartly” mean? I don’t know, but it sounded good, didn’t it?)
  6. Go to heaven and return singing. This means you eat your breakfast burrito, but you do it savoring each bite. This is food meant to be enjoyed, not gobbled.

 As for calories, I estimate about 360 for the main ingredients. Veggies really don’t count in my book. Come on! Nobody gained weight eating turnips. But I’ll round it up to 400 just to be safe. Add in a glass of water and a piece of fruit and you’ve got a 450 calorie breakfast that starts your day off with delight, gratitude, and the joy of redemption. It could also make those you cook for kneel down upon the floor in well-deserved homage. And that’s always a nice thing for the cook.

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2 Responses to Brown’s Breakfast Burrito, The Way Back

  1. Matt W says:

    I also enjoyed “The Way Back.” I wanted to know more and it didn’t take me long to find out that there was a lot of controversy about the truth of the book. So I would have liked it better if the blurb had said, “May have been inspired by real events.”

    Your food advise has been solid in the past. I am excited to give this breakfast burrito a try.

  2. John Brown says:


    Yeah, I agree, and that’s why I said “claimed.” They probably shouldn’t have had that blurb at all because it sets up expectations. All they needed to do was talk about the Gulag and escape attempts etc. Oh, well.

    As for the burrito, you’re going to love it. Another version is to use tater tots instead of the mushrooms. Not very high class, but delicious nevertheless. Let me know how you like it.